From: BillyGraham Abel, Yola
Pensioners in Adamawa State continue to labour in retirement as they are owed a backlog of pension arrears of up to three years of their retirement benefits.
According to the pensioners, their combined arrears was within the range of N20 billion.
The senior citizens made this known at a press briefing, on Thursday, in Yola. Speaking to journalists at the briefing, Secretary of the Adamawa pensioners, Alhaji Umaru Mairiga said, “Retirees who completed all retirement formalities as far back 2009 are yet to get their gratuities paid and no date has been fixed to effect payment.”
He drew the attention of the public to the plight of pensioners in the state who, he maintained have continued to labour in retirement. He pleaded with the state government to address their plight and ameliorate the accruing pension arrears to the tune of about N20 billion.
The pensioners also lamented at the travails of families of deceased Permanent Secretaries and the Executive Chairman of the state’s Board of Internal Revenue, who died in active service about seven years ago and which entitlements could not be paid to their registered next of kins.
Mairiga, a retired Permanent Secretary said, “We have over 40 Permanent secretaries, State and local government Auditors General and Clerks to the State house of Assembly retired from 2009 to 2016 still awaiting to be paid their legitimate benefits.
“The payment of Pension and gratuity is a right enshrined in the 1999 Constitution, section 173 sub-section 3, which guarantees the right of pensioners in the country, so it is not a privilege as suggested by the Chief of Staff to the Adamawa State governor.
The pensioners also challenged the state government to pay the money owed them without delay.
They noted that it is only in Adamawa state that pensioners receive as little as N3000 as pensions.
We have about 3000 people who have retired for over three years but up till now have not been placed on pension.
With the recent disbursement of payment by the federal government from the Paris club yet no pensioner in Adamawa has any hope to receive a kobo from it.
The Chairman of the pensioners association, Comrade Samson Almuru queried that, “About N1 billion is said to have been allocated to the state and local government pensioners in Adamawa State, yet nothing has reached them.”
“Pensioners of Adamawa state have suffered enough. We have been neglected so much so that we are ashamed to say we are from this state when we go to the national body.
Almuru condemned a statement by the chief of staff claiming that paying pension is optional
Almuru said, “He is too ignorant because he has not stayed in the civil service to reach retirement age so he would not appreciate the situation of the pensioners.”
Samson said, “We are demanding that government should pay us our entitlement, we are not begging, it’s our entitlement.
He said, “those laying claim to power that they to refuse to pay us, history will judge them.”
The pensioners who thronged the Yola office include permanent secretaries, former directors, decried the death, and illnesses of some of their members as a result of lack of payment of their entitlement.
A former Permanent Secretary, Mustapha Galadima said,” A situation where permanent secretaries have to beg for their entitlements is not a good omen for the country.
He said,”About 40 permanent secretaries that have retired between 2009 and 2014 that have not been paid up to today.
Abubakar Girei, a former permanent Secretary and one time Secretary to the State government, Gajere, Murum Mbula, just to mention a few, still receive as little as N7000 naira to N20000 naira as Pension.
There is no reason why anyone whether he retired in the 70s or now to be receiving these amounts as salaries after serving thirty five years.
The pensioners say they appreciate the giant of the state government in the area of infrastructural development, however, such development should not be carried out out with total ignominy of the retirees legitimate benefits, gratuity.”
“In a good democracy denial of Retirees right that are legitimate in nature, is equal to human rights abuse.”
They said all efforts to get government to deal with the situation of the retirees proved abortive.
The motto of the Nigerian union of pensioners says, “Rest is sweet after labour” but pensioners in Adamawa State seem to know no rest as they are still labouring to get their entitlements.